A second exit from Top Gear of a key member of the team has been denied by the BBC after a producer sent an email entitled "goodbye".

Andy Wilman sent the message headed "Au revoir", shortly after Jeremy Clarkson was sacked by the BBC for attacking a colleague because he furious about a complementary buffet.

In his email, Wilman - an old school friend of Clarkson - described his participation in the past tense by writing: "Our stint as guardians of Top Gear was a good one, but we were only part of the show's history, not the whole of it."

Continuing the farewell tone, Wilman wrote: "We had a lot of laughs, we had a lot of tiffs" and "at least we left them wanting more."

But he later clarified the internal email which was leaked after being sent to members of the team, with the BBC also insisting it was not a "resignation statement".

Wilman insisted: "The email I wrote yesterday was not a resignation statement, and nor was it meant for public consumption. [...] "If I were to resign, I wouldn't do it publicly, I'd do it old school by handing in my, er, notice, to someone upstairs in HR."

A BBC spokeswoman said: "It was not a farewell but a thank you to people who have been important to the show over the last 12 years. It was bringing down the curtain on the Clarkson era, not announcing his own departure."

Clarkson was dropped from Top Gear after producer Oisin Tymon was left needing hospital treatment following a 'fracas' between the pair. He has spoken of his wish to put the incident behind him by returning to work on the show.

Meanwhile, Clarkson has been linked with the Australian version of Top Gear and is fancied to be back on screens soon.